Should Lakewood Allow Dormitories in Residential Zones Without Neighborhood Consent?

On Friday, Judge Marlene Ford issued a powerful ruling which prevented a Lakewood Yeshiva from constructing a dormitory in a residential zone.

The Yeshiva in question was trying to add another dormitory adjacent to their existing building, but ran into opposition from multiple neighbors in several adjacent developments who raised a number of concerns.

Despite the concerns, the Lakewood Planning Board ultimately approved the application, and a lawsuit was filed against the Planning Board’s actions.

Should Lakewood’s Planning or Zoning Boards – or any town in Ocean County – be allowing dormitories to be constructed in a residential neighborhood, without neighbors’ consent – for example next door to, or behind YOUR home?

Leave your thoughts below.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Yes.
    I grew up with a number of yeshiva dormitories in the immediate vicinity of my house as a child.
    It was a great influence on us as children.

  2. There are halachos that dictate how we who are fortunate to live in Lakewood should expect. If a mosed is not governed by halacha, we have a larger issue r’l!

  3. This is a tough question! I’m on both sides of the isle. Working for a Yeshiva (not local), and being neighbors with Yeshivos.

    I’d think there usually is a way to find a balance between the neighbors and a Yeshiva that doesn’t need to be open, raw, and in the public. Perhaps finding an unbiased mediator to listen to both sides fairly, in order to help them get there.

    But more importantly, the ruling on Friday didn’t just effect that single Yeshiva. It affected all Yeshivos who plan to build but haven’t completed their buildings yet.

  4. I live in a neighborhood where every other house has a pool, and this yeshiva wanted to build back to back with us (with windows into our yards). We nicely sent them a letter to let them know their more then welcome to build but there will be girls swimming in the pools. They reply, if we build it is assur to have girls in view of the boys. So we responded back they will use the pool whether your boys are looking or not….. Long story short they built in a way that they cant see in. Regarding having the dorm there, I never had any problems with noise. And as long as you don’t mind having groups of boys walk around your neighborhood it should be fine. The few issues that did arise was quickly dealt with by their principle. Overall their refined and sweet boys not looking for problems, and I even occasional give them rides if I see them hitching from their school. Me, my husband, and neighbors would love to host y’all for meals but their not allowed to come to our houses. Their rabbi is really nice and speaks for the men sometimes at shul!!!

  5. I live next to a dorm. I was apprehensive before they moved in (as were my neigbors), but now that they are here they are really wonderful boys, and me and my neighbors actually daven on Shabbos in the Yeshiva.

    • I live next to a large dorm building. The noise emanating from that place in the wee hours of the morning and waking up my children is inconsiderate. The yeshiva tells everyone that since they’re a top yeshiva their boys never make trouble. Of course, there’s also no dorm counselor to monitor the boy’s behavior since they’re expected to act like angels.

      My street and backyard are also littered with cigarette buts and other junk from the angelic bochurim, because even though the yeshiva promised that their boys wouldn’t roam around my neighborhood – that hasn’t been the case.

      Additionally, although the yeshiva has an official rule prohibiting its’ students from bringing cars to school, that “rule” is also disregarded. They just park all over my neighborhood instead, taking up the spots my neighborhood needs for its own residents for weeks at a time. The Yeshiva’s response that “boys will be boys” is simply unacceptable!

      I forgot to mention that although the current dorm has been there for a few years, they still haven’t covered or frosted their second story windows. They instead chose to ignore the neighbors’ complaints and allow their boys to keep staring into families’ bedrooms and backyards. It makes us all very uncomfortable in what is supposed to be a residential area.

      If only they would practice what they preach.

      So, my response to this survey is a resounding NO.

        • So, your only response to all my valid points was to dismiss them out of hand as coming from what you claim to be “cynicism”?? You obviously have zero issues with the various problems caused by the school. This is quite telling about the kind of individual you yourself are.

          So, to set things straight, I was not being cynical. I was stating the bare facts as they present themselves and stated the obvious conclusion that dormitories – especially large size buildings – should not be forced into a residential neighborhood without the consent of those it will impact. (This is even more true when the school has already shown itself to not be considerate of the neighbor’s concerns.)

          Apparently, you need a serious dose of chizuk in your bein adam l’chaveiro.. Learning is number one, but it’s a zero without proper middos!

  6. The biggest challenge as the Orthodox expand all over the region in very high numbers is preventing irresponsible overdevelopment that leads to infrastructure collapse. Your leadership had no plans for Lakewood’s future growth and seem to want to take that same approach in neighboring towns. How can you build the religious infrastructure needed in a smart organized way that will not ruin the quality of life you all seek in neighboring towns?

  7. I find it interesting how several (many?) of you are against yeshivos or dorms near you. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it but I’m so surprised at the attitude.
    If this was non-Jews stating this opinion, everyone here would be screaming “Antisemitism” yet its okay for you to?

  8. Goose Gossage says ABSOLUTELY and is highly supportive of this ordinance, unless of course the dorm residents may present a potential harm.

    But in any event Goose thinks this good for the morale and the environment.

    Gossage out!

  9. A dorm no matter where it is it has to be safe. I found empty beer cans on my property and reported it to the rabbi therefore, my answer is it doesn’t belong unsupervised in an area that will harm young children.

    • You seem to extreme with your complaint, Mr. Grumpy. The question was wether dormitories should be forced down the residential neighborhood’s throat without their consent. The consensus to that specific question is NO. Why are you so hot under the collar?

  10. This question should be more general. Should variances of any kind be issued without consent of the neighbors and the answer is a resounding NO, UNLESS the source of protest is bigotry.

  11. Neighbors should always be consulted regarding any expansion.
    The planning and zoning boards need to be more sensitive to the general development of a neighborhood.

  12. Neighbors should always be consulted regarding any expansion.
    The planning and zoning boards need to be more sensitive to the general development of a neighborhood.

  13. YES FOR SURE. Don’t chase away the yeshiva bachurim it’s the best think for you it will bring bracha and shefa to your house, Rav gifter would say how in the world of old the goyish farmers would beg the yeshiva bachurim to stroll in their fields as they knew this would make the crops grow better.
    Chase away the yeshiva bachurim will only bring bigger problems

  14. It is incumbent on the Yeshiva to make the neighbors happy
    I love dorms and I love yeshivas
    But if I have a pool with all girls
    Does it really make senses to make a dorm back to back with my home
    The Yeshiva should sit down with the neighbors and work out a compromise
    Don’t just shove your building down everyone’s throat and say too bad!
    If the people have concerns listen to them
    Especially if the neighborhood isn’t zoned for it
    Dorms really should be put far away from residential areas
    Does everyone need to see the boys in their tank tops ?

    • From my house we unfortunately see boys in their tank tops all the time, because the yeshiva refuses to place a permanent covering on their windows or position them in a way where the boys aren’t able to stare at us all the time.

      By the way, this isn’t only a problem with the school. The yeshiva also has classrooms higher up on the second floor which makes us very uncomfortable using our own backyards, because our privacy is invaded by teenagers.

      And no, we have nothing against bachurim or yeshivos. We ourselves were bachurim not that long ago. Our own boys continue the mesorah and are yeshiva bachurim and we pride ourselves as supporters of yeshivos. But this lackadaisical attitude to the neighbors is not consistent with the ideals preached about in halacha sefarim and certainly not with the mussar sefarim.

      Like with everything else, it matters who the Rosh Yeshiva is that is running the mosad or who he chooses to appoint to his Board of Directors. I can guarantee you that Rav Gifter zt”l would NEVER allow this type of situation to happen with his mosad. And neither would any of the other true anashim gedolim!

    • From my house we unfortunately see boys in their tank tops all the time, because the yeshiva refuses to place a permanent covering on their windows or position them in a way where the boys aren’t able to stare at us all the time. We also have to tolerate the loud music they play at 2 in the morning.

      By the way, this isn’t only a problem with the school. The yeshiva also has classrooms higher up on the second floor which makes us very uncomfortable using our own backyards, because our privacy is invaded by teenagers.

      And no, we have nothing against bachurim or yeshivos. We ourselves were bachurim not that long ago. Our own boys continue the mesorah and are yeshiva bachurim and we pride ourselves as supporters of yeshivos. But this lackadaisical attitude to the neighbors is not consistent with the ideals preached about in halacha sefarim and certainly not with the mussar sefarim.

      Like with everything else, it matters who the Rosh Yeshiva is that is running the mosad or who he chooses to appoint to his Board of Directors. I can guarantee you that Rav Gifter zt”l would NEVER allow this type of situation to happen with his mosad. And neither would any of the other true anashim gedolim!

  15. i went to the the Mesivta of Long Beach. There were four dormitories. and it has still been like that for over 50 years. There were not Yeshiva home grown neighbors. They were either Non-Jewish or maybe Jewish. Never did i hear about neighbors complaining.

  16. First off,the mesivtas have no guidence once tge re bis go home, the bochurim have no reflective belts, roaming around on unlit streets, sometimes either high or drunk…yes it is happening. Add to it these electronic scooters and bikes, it’s a recipe for disaster.and also,there is a noise issue and hezeq riah propblem. Should the neighbors be asked? Yes!

  17. Should they work with the neighbors? Yes. Will they? No. They’ll build whatever they want & if anyone complains they’ll do what they always do & cry “Antisemitism”

  18. I had a dorm pop up on my block for a short while. I felt it made the place more chilled and safer. I liked it. There was also youthfulness always in the air. Keep it up chashuva bachurim!

  19. Before anyone criticizes the opponents of dorms in residential neighborhoods, consider our experience: A Yeshiva opened up (without any township approvals for either a Yeshiva or a dorm) next to my house. The boys, as boys will, played ball outside many hours every day and were outside during evening hours and they were LOUD. REALLY LOUD. It ruined our peace and quiet altogether. Not a minor annoyance, a major disturbance for nearly two years, almost every day. I am fully in support of their learning AND their enjoying sports and other activities, but I don’t want to have my peace and quiet ruined by it.

    Luckily, they outgrew the location and moved elsewhere.

  20. At minimum, there needs to be a huge buffer area between large dormitories and residential homes. Not just a measly 20 or 30 feet from the property line. The loud music and arguing travels very far at night and doesn’t let the neighbors sleep.

  21. I find it extremely difficult to understand any argument for allowing it.
    Just because it’s a yeshiva does not give any reason to override the legal rights of the neighbors. It’s very simple and logical. Yeshivos have to show respect to people and abide by the relevant laws just like everyone else

    • Of course, we should just turn the entire town into one big dormitory with noise, cigarette butts, beer cans all over the place, cars taking up neighborhood spots, and no privacy for families whatsoever. Whoever doesn’t like it, should move out!

      Although @Chiily Bo thinks this should be considered sensible, it’s obvious that individual doesn’t have his head screwed on straight.

  22. Of course, we should just turn the entire town into one big dormitory with noise, cars, cigarette buts, beer cans all over the place, and no privacy for families whatsoever. Whoever doesn’t like it, should move out!

    Although @Chiily Bo thinks this should be considered sensible, it’s obvious that individual doesn’t have his head screwed on straight.

    • Can you stop exaggerating! Yes, occasionally they drop cigarette butts and beer cans on the street, but it is definitely not out of control. When a yeshiva moved to my neighborhood I embraced it. When groups of boys would walk through the neighborhood instead of getting annoyed I would introduce myself and asked them to be more quiet. I would tell them to feel free to stop by a few times a week for supper, swimming, X box, ETC, and they do. On Fridays I let them use my car. In return they know not to make noise late at night, they don’t feel the need to peak into my windows because their free to come when they want. These boys are humans with feelings and they can sense how the neighborhood feels about them. If you treat them as normal people they will act as normal people and vice versa. Whoever lives in LKWD knows what type of town it is, and yes the social norm in LKWD may not be accepted elsewhere, but that is what LKWD is. If you don’t like it there are many other options to go. Where I grew up nothing that happens in LKWD would be accepted, but I chose to live here and therefore I embrace this type of lifestyle, which includes dealing with having yeshivas on every corner.

  23. I believe this yeshiva was there before any houses were built. Anyone moving to the neighborhood knew they would be living near a yeshiva with a dorm.

    • No. You are wrong. It was not.

      But regardless, their original testimony – made in public under penalty of perjury – was that they would have “no more than a maximum of 200 students”. In fact, their original approval was specifically conditioned on having “no more than 200 students.”

      Had they represented at the time that they would have almost double that number, they never would have received their approval at this location — and the current issues and discussions would never have occurred.

  24. 100% they were there. The approval for the yeshiva was there before any house was sold, as that was the selling pitch to move out there back then, thats the truth and you know it. Regarding the point of the original approval for 200, Thats like telling somebody you cant expand your house Because we didnt anticipate you will have more children….such an unintellectual point…no body anticipated the growth of this town…

  25. It will be another dumpster fire. Doesn’t the town of Lakewood use enough of the counties resources on the weekends especially? Add another dorm where boys are setting fires to mattresses, climbing out windows of the second floor and having no adult supervision for more than 24 hours

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